On the final day of the college football bowl games, the Big 12 was able to wipe away some of the considerable egg it had accumulated on its face.
The conference’s once high profile had taken a beating through five games with an unsightly 1-4 record.
However, an epic collapse of the once-proud league was averted when TCU roared back from 31 points down to stun Oregon and West Virginia clipped Arizona State.
Still, a 3-4 record was an ego-sapping blow at a time when the puffed-out-chest SEC reaffirmed its status as the dominant conference while the other members of the so-called Big 5 came to the realization they have a long way to go to catch up.
The scores of the Big 12’s games tell the story. The scoring average of the seven opponents was nearly 45 points a game, with the lowest number allowed being 37 by Oklahoma in its loss to No. 1-ranked Clemson.
Big 12 defenses resembled jello and furthered the image of a conference that is predicated mainly on offense and a graveyard for defensive coordinators.
Five- and four-star high school recruits see that. Backs and receivers are partial to playing in the Big 12 because they can put up the monstrous numbers that attract pro scouts. But for those wanting to get down and dirty in the trenches, they head south. College football’s power resides in the south with Alabama and the Florida schools, where the weather also happens to be warmer.
Looking at the other conferences, the Big 10 falls off dramatically once you get past Ohio State and the two Michigan schools. Iowa had a great regular season, but was overmatched by Stanford in the Rose Bowl and this was the first time in several years the Hawkeyes had been on the national scene.
The Pac 12 is suffering because historic programs USC and UCLA have fallen on somewhat hard times by their standards. The ACC can’t shake the stigma of being a basketball conference, something the Big 12 may soon become far more famous for given the play of Kansas, Oklahoma and Iowa State.
Make no mistake, the Big 12 is fun to watch when the conference schedule begins. You are assured of teams racking up big yards and points in 4-hour-plus games. But as far as a national factor, you have to wonder if any Big 12 team can ever play well enough defensively to win another national championship.